Google “outdoor living” or “blurring the lines between indoor and outdoor living” and you’ll find so many awe-inspiring ideas, you may end up slamming the computer shut as you think “There’s no way I can ever do anything like that.” Don’t get frustrated. Get creative.
But with a thoughtful design process, and a few minor changes, bringing the outdoors in can be easily done. The same is true for the reverse; creating outdoor spaces with all the comfort and functionality of your kitchen or living room…or both!
- Mini Project with Maximum Impact: Private “Master” Terrace
Have a first-floor master bedroom? Would you like to have adjoining private terrace? Sure, why not, right? If your first-floor master is toward the back of your home, creating a private terrace is often as simple as adding a door and the terrace itself.
In the master bedroom above, we installed a glass swinging door. One side swings open like a traditional door, and the other side is a fixed window. We set it between two existing windows, and surrounded the entire with millwork to give it a cohesive feel. Just outside is a petite flagstone terrace that’s perfect for sipping a cup of coffee, or enjoying a glass of wine.
We took a similar approach in this historic home in Cotuit (below).
- Add a Deck at the “Right” Height
To some extent, all decks blend that line we’re talking about. But a deck that is high off the ground just doesn’t feel as connected to the outside as one that is sited low to the ground and, preferably, at the same level as the room adjacent to it. The one above, that we added to a historic home in Centerville, is low enough to the ground that view-impeding safety fencing was not required. With no stairs between the house and the deck, and a trio of doors for access, moving in and out of the house is truly seamless.
Take a look at the photo below and you’ll see why no “view-impeding” fence was so important.
- Consider a Disappearing Wall
A disappearing wall is typically large windows – about the size of doors – that either fold back accordion style, or can be pushed back into pockets in the wall. That was the approach we took with the pool house above. Even with the very highest quality windows, there is some loss of energy with a disappearing wall, so it’s best to reserve this concept for summer homes and or seasonal outbuildings like this.
- Invest in Your Outdoor Spaces (especially if they’re small!)
It can be tempting to write your micro yard off as being so small, it’s not worth an investment. Not true! At the home above, a historic house in Hyannis Port, the side yard is minuscule as are so many in the famed village. So we had to make every inch count.
After having a flagstone terrace installed, we got to work building the dual outdoor showers (two showers; no waiting!), a storage unit, a handheld shower and the platform for the spa. The copper spa was custom built in Colorado and shipped to the Cape. When it was delivered to Hyannis Port, we had a crane at the ready to hoist the spa up and over the house, and drop it into place.
With the summer season on the Cape so brief, doesn’t it make sense to do everything possible to ensure you and your family are able to savor moment?